Fear and Desire
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by Kathleen Brandt
Description: Cassie's been touched by an angel--and found it terrifying. Defying her fear of heights, Cassie has moved in to the tallest building in town. She's doing pretty well until a thunderstorm blows an unexpected visitor through her balcony window, and she finds herself nursing a wounded angel back to health. Tending to the angel's wounds teaches Cassie a lot more than she expected about fear...and about desire. Content warning, explicit m/f sex, virginity loss.
eBook Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc., 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [87 KB]
Reading time: 54-76 min.
Cassie's last good day was on a Friday in October. She came home in a state of pleasant weariness. Her job, only two years old now, offered things her previous life never had: talking to co-workers, shaking hands, occasionally being smiled at. She got out of the carpool vehicle outside her apartment tower to a chorus of farewells, aware of the things she had escaped by going in to the office, the fear and desire she must now return to.
The foyer of her building was lushly decorated with potted plants and small trees in heavy copper tubs, like an indoor jungle. Cassie stood in front of the elevator doors, waiting for the courage to push the button. At the front desk, Mr. Gordon, the manager, watched her incuriously through the foliage. He was used to seeing Cassie come home.
At last Cassie pushed the button. She clutched her legal-assistant briefcase, crushing the lapels of her prim suit dress against her small breasts. When the doors opened, she stepped in quickly. The doors shut. Committed now, Cassie relaxed, concentrating on her breathing.
The back of the elevator was a mirror, painted with veins of copper to make it look like marble. Two ferns occupied the elevator's rear corners. Cassie's petite shape and big-eyed elfin face made her look like a decaying statue in the painted mirror. She automatically patted her shoulder-length straight hair, which was blonde but dyed auburn brown. Then she grabbed the rail, her stomach dropping, and the elevator surged upward. She had a love-hate relationship with the elevator. It represented home and sleep, and the veined mirror always made her chuckle, but it took her so far up, so fast.
The button reading 24 in calligraphy lit up. The doors opened on a quiet, windowless hallway with green carpet and ivy-patterned walls. Cassie's floor. The top floor.
She prodded the floor outside the elevator with one toe, as always, to see if it were firm enough to keep her from falling, then stepped out. Her apartment was 2408. She rattled open the door with her key.
The apartment had come furnished. Cassie had made few changes, and they were mostly in the bedroom. Directly across from the front door, past the peach and turquoise living room, was a pair of sliding glass doors opening onto a small concrete balcony.
Cassie gave it one glance and then looked away.
"You chose this," she said to herself. "And it's working. Only two minutes in front of the elevator today." She dropped her briefcase on the kitchenette counter and went to change clothes, shutting the door firmly on the living room and the sliding glass doors.
Through the gauze curtains, she could see that the sky was dull and stormy, so she flipped on the bedroom light. When she had gotten here, the bed was a monstrosity of sagging wood with drawers underneath and shelves above, so tall she would have needed a stool to get up on it. She'd had that carted out first thing, replacing it with a low pedestal bed in subdued colors. It was still unmade from this morning. Mr. Gordon employed a cleaning person--or spy--for each floor, but she didn't come in till Wednesday. Cassie was sure the report would be the same this week as always: Cassie Michaels still lives alone, has broken no appliances, keeps the place neat enough, has acquired no illicit goldfish.
What she did have were plants. There were two of them, neatly potted on a shelf above the bed, across from the windows where they could get light. They were an eccentric pair, unmatched to each other. She picked up the watering can from the nightstand and looked them over for spots or dust.
On the left side of the shelf was a big fern, its uncurling fronds heavy with seed. Many of its leaves were browned; the air was too dry for it, really. She watered it thoroughly. This one was only a few months old, but it looked like it was dying already. She would go out and get a new one, then. You could do that with plants. When her mother had died, Cassie had been a child, and there had been nothing she could do. She stared blankly at the fern for a minute, thinking about that. On balance, she decided, she was still more angry than sad about it. Her mother had died in an avoidable car crash, and abandoned Cassie to her father.
The other plant was a round barrel cactus, untouchable behind its armor of spikes. There was juice and life in there somewhere, presumably, but the prickly exterior hid it well. Whether Cassie's father had been afraid to touch her, afraid to show love of any kind, for reasons of his own, or had simply disliked his child mattered little to Cassie at ten years old. She sneered at the cactus and put the watering can down, leaving it dry for another day.
After changing into shorts and a big baggy t-shirt with a faded teddy bear on the front, she went back out to the kitchenette. Standing with her back to the glass doors, she put a pot of soup on the burner to heat. Then, resolute, she turned around. Better to get this over with before she ate, in case of vomiting.
As she did every day, she considered the notion of skipping it, just this once.